by Steve Pivnick, 81st Medical Group Public Affairs
- KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. – The 81st Medical Group “Dragon Medics” bid farewell to long-time superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Michael Anderson as he is honored for his 30 years of Air Force service during a retirement ceremony at 10 a.m. today at the Bay Breeze Event Center. Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Dan Wyman, Air Combat Command command surgeon and former 81st MDG commander, will officiate.
The chief has been the enlisted leader of the group, which consists of seven squadrons and more than 1,600 military and civilian members, since July 2008. As superintendent, he advised the medical group commander and executive staff on daily operations and on the welfare, training, professional progression, and utilization of more than 850 enlisted personnel who staff one of the Air Force Medical Service’s largest medical facilities. The 81st MDG is also the fourth largest medical deployment platform in the Air Force and second largest in the Air Education and Training Command. The group is further distinguished by its robust Graduate Medical and Dental Education and Phase II enlisted training programs.
Anderson enlisted in the Air Force Reserves following graduation from high school in Huber Heights, Ohio, near Dayton. He became a member of the active-duty Air Force in February 1983. The chief, consistently recognized as a top performer, has held a variety of assignments within the medical community from aerospace medical technician to independent duty medical technician. He also served as a first sergeant for seven years in a variety of squadrons ranging from security forces to counter drug operations.
Prior to assuming his present duties, Anderson served as the superintendent for the 48th MDG, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom, from January-July 2008.
Discussing his three decades of service, the chief said, “I learned that to be an effective leader you must give respect down the chain. In other words, you should respect our young airmen and NCOs just as you would respect a colonel or general officer. Over the entire length of my career, I’ve been fortunate to have a special connection with our younger generations. I always made an effort to learn their names and never missed an opportunity to speak with them.”
He considers his greatest accomplishement the ability to build professional and personal relationships, both at his home stations and abroad over his 30 years of military service to his nation.
While he didn’t deploy many times over his career, Anderson did have three remote assignments: Sardina, Italy; Osan Air Base, Korea; and Manta, Ecuador.
“I served as an independent duty medical technician in Sardinia. I was an enlisted medical provider performing medical examinations, laboratory tests, health and food inspections and emergency dental procedures as well as prescribing medications. I served as a first sergeant for an air communications squadron at Osan, and at Manta I was the first sergeant for a forward operating location involved in counter-drug operations.”
The chief also faced several challenges over the years.”One challenge I faced early in my career was as an emergency room and labor and delivery technician. I dealt with the life and death aspect of patient care for adults and newborns. You always want to provide the best possible care for your patients but sometimes you are helpless when it comes to saving their lives. As my career evolved from patient care to first sergeant and superintendent, it was always a challenge making recommendations on whether to keep a young man or woman in the Air Force or send them back to a sometimes less-than-desirable way of life. I was so concerned I would sometimes lay awake at night making sure our leadership team did everything possible to put the Airman back on the right track prior to taking action.”
As his superintendent wraps up a long, distinguished career, Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Kory Cornum, 81st MDG commander, noted, “Chief Anderson knows our people! He knows every one of them, what they do, what makes them happy and what doesn’t. He always has people’s best interest in mind with every discussion or decision we make.”
Looking back at his three decades of service, the chief said, “It’s always been about taking care of the people that do the mission. As a young independent duty medical technician, first sergeant and a chief, I’ve always enjoyed taking care of our nation’s Airmen. At the end of the day, I am happy to look in the mirror and know that I made difference.”
He, wife Angelica and daughter Jacklyn, 13, will return to a brand new home they’ve built in Huber Heights.